Gain World, Lose Soul

I could almost see subscribing to this service for a year. I could drill into coming trends, stories, themes…naaah. I could be cynical and say that there are no new stories and themes in mainstream commercial cinema. When Matt Damon told an Entertainment Weekly writer the other day that movies as we know them will be dead in 25 or 30 years…something went cold in my heart and I haven’t yet recovered.

Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci.

One of the reasons for the coming demise, I believe, is that way, way too many big-studio scripts have been written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who are probably the most successful super-hacks around or are certainly among the most successful in this realm. A 2011 Forbes magazine profile called them “Hollywood’s secret weapons” and “the quiet force behind $3 billion in box office.”

But successfully churning out one highly efficient, mind-numbing screenplay after another (which is not easy…seriously, not everyone can do it), this malignant duo has probably ushered more despair into the hearts of not only rival screenwriters but untold millions of moviegoers…more than you or I could possibly calculate. It’s not that Kurtzman and Orci are bad guys in and of themselves, but they serve soul-less corporate mainstream packagers who pander solely and entirely to Joe Popcorn and Joe Download, and are therefore incurring mountains of ill will and bad karma.

Over the last half-dozen or so years these guys have written or co-written The Island, The Legend of Zorro, Mission: Impossible III, Transformers, Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Cowboys & Aliens, People Like Us (an uncharacteristic stab at modest, human-scale drama that didn’t work), Star Trek Into Darkness, All You Need is Kill, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and…wait, a Sleepy Hollow TV project?

When these guys hit their 50s they’re going to start looking in the bathroom mirror as they’re shaving and go, “My God…what have I done? I mean, I live well in a beautiful house and I’m paying for my children’s ivy league educations but my God!!”

  • JLC

    25-30 years? That’s insanely optomistic. Once 70+ inch TVs and HD streaming go mainstream, theatrical is all but finished. 5 years, 10 tops.
    People will always need somewhere to go to get out of the house, but there won’t be enough demand for the multiplexes we have now. IMAX-type venues will be all that’s left. And IMAX=3D blockbuster.
    Face it, going to the movies is an expensive, time-consuming hassle. Movies are targeted at the young because they’re the ones that have the time and disposable income to go. Most everyone else is staying home, even today. Heck, how many movies do even critics watch at home on screeners? They’re the ones most defending the “theatrical experience.” But every couple months, Jeffrey takes a photo of the piles of swag the studios send him.
    And forget the movies going back to serious adult drama. That market has already been conceded to television.
    What we grew up with already has one foot out the door. In a decade, it will almost certainly be gone.

  • Mark74

    Amen Jeff. Amen. Not one memorable moment or line of dialogue in any of those screenplays. Absolute garbage.

    • JBM…

      Hey now! There’s the part in TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN where the…uh…well, no wait, what about…

      …shit, you’re right.

  • WTF? There aren’t going to be any teenagers in 25 years? Nobody’s going to try to get laid 25 years from now? Movies aren’t only about the GREAT ART OF CINEMA. Not everybody wants to stay home and watch TV with their fucking parents. Jesus, Wells, you need to take a step back, have a nice single malt and take a deep breath.

    And honestly, who gives a fuck what Matt Damon says about anything..?

  • Bobby Cooper

    Brand cinema scumbags. They provide the coveted connective tissue between VFX sequences and product placement interludes offshore animators and marketing execs cannot.

    You’re worrying about the future when we’re already subject to the Orci-Kurtzman/Rossio-Elliot effect — 2 hour-plus tent-pole lobotomies that preserve the status quo and advance nothing but nihilistic consumerism. “Hey, we made a boatload of cash, some critics think we’re ‘fun,’ and the revenue stream from all the chotchkies beefed up our quarterly. We’re not about to punish success.”

    Remember this?

    • Mark74

      That NY Times article is horrifying. “Major talent like Bob Orci…” Jesus.

    • Was waiting in line at Rite-Aid and the guy behind me was on a call, describing a screenwriter he’d read that weekend as doing “big summer action” like “what Rossio and Elliot used to be great at.” I was almost like, “What, back in the ‘Godzilla’ days?!”

  • Max Stephens

    “Together, and will launch The PowerGrid in the Spring of 2012. ”
    If the Grid can’t be bothered to update its About section, how likely is its accuracy/usefulness?


    Goddamn smug hipsters. Burn in Hell.

  • So apparently if Matt Damon says something, it has the force of canon law for Wells, and can turn his heart cold and drive him to a deep depression. I see some amusing possibilities in this scenario, I have to say…

  • BobJones

    Orci & Kurtzman have been the bane of my moviegoing experience for years now. I railed against them from their first work of crap and at the time was vilified and reviled. “Lighten up,” “not every movie has to be ‘smart.'” “Sometimes people just want ‘dumb’ entertainment,” etc. The list of excuses from the lobotomized was aggressive and endless.
    And as they wrote more scripts they’ve hollowed out Hollywood more and more, seemingly validating that crap is every bit as valid a product for H’wood to produce as quality. Moreso since quality is harder to make than crap.

    It’s gratifying to see them exposed. People who used to defend or ignore them now have to reject them.
    They can’t produce anything unless it’s part of a pre-existing franchise. Clueless execs like Lorenzo Bonaventura and soulless automatons like Spielberg/Abrams keep on giving them properties to wreak havoc on. They won’t stop until cinema is left a smoking ruin.

  • AHB

    With the entire world going to hell in a hand basket, people need comfort food and these guys are part of a group that provides said sustenance. Nothing wrong with.

    As for regrets, if they give me half their money, I’ll take all their regrets.

  • BobJones

    Anyone notice how the franchises that Orci/Kurtzman were on achieved FAR higher success after they left?
    Transformers 3 and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol did far better than TF1/2 and M:I3.
    So the accolades they get are paid for by the studios, let’s get that straight.

  • On the plus side, I have saved a lot of money over the last few years by just avoiding anything they’ve written. Might as well put a big warning sign on the poster: ‘Stay away, this movie was written for the attention span of 14 year old boys.’